V.V. Lightbody Credit: Rachel Winslow

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vivian McConnell comes from a musical family, and she began enmeshing herself in Chicago’s music scene in the early 2010s, around the time she moved here from Urbana. By then she and her oldest brother, Stan, were playing together in the indie-rock band Santah, and McConnell had also joined indie four-piece Grandkids; she’s since become part of several overlapping underground scenes. Lately her main artistic focus has been her solo project, where she uses the name V.V. Lightbody to honor her pianist grandmother, Virginia Lightbody, but she also provides auxiliary guitar, flute, keyboards, or vocals for a hodgepodge of other acts. She’s contributed to Slow Mass’s thundering posthardcore (2018’s On Watch), Accessory’s sleepy lo-fi ditties (2018’s Blue Tape), and Poplife’s effervescent take on adult contemporary, which they call “Bruce jazz” (the 2019 single “Bad Attitude”). Last year, McConnell debuted a collaboration called Valebol with Dos Santos percussionist Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo, and though they haven’t released any recordings yet, YouTube footage of their inaugural performance at the Empty Bottle last June has whet my appetite. On her second album as V.V. Lightbody, Make a Shrine or Burn It (Acrophase), McConnell blends light bossa nova percussion, austere indie-rock rhythms, snaking guitars, and tender folk vocals with a gentleness that belies the hard work and discipline required to pull off such intricate material. Though McConnell has called her style “nap rock,” she’s more likely to hypnotize you than put you to sleep—the oscillating keys and mellow sax on “BYOB” create an intriguing depth of sound that invites active listening.   v